Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Pesto by Chef Justin Melnick

Filled with butternut squash, sage and brown butter this dish could not be more appropriate for a chilly fall evening. Though the squash needs to be roasted and drained a day ahead of time, the actual cook time for this delicious dish is fairly quick. Plus, Melnick says you can make the gnocchi ahead of time and freeze for later use. Pesto, incidentally, also keeps quite nicely, covered with olive oil and refrigerated which means you could get more than just one meal out of this recipe, if you plan accordingly.

Serves 4


For the gnocchi

  • 2 pounds butternut squash
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-4 cups all purpose flour

For the pesto

  • 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh sage

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste


For the gnocchi

  1. The day before you plan to eat the gnocchi, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and season with salt and olive oil. Roast in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until tender.
  3. Pull the squash out of oven and scoop out the flesh into a strainer lined with cheesecloth to drain out any excess moisture. Place the strainer in a bowl to catch the moisture. Place a weight on top of the squash to press out all the liquid, and allow it to drain overnight.
  4. The next day, place the drained butternut squash on a table with a small amount of flour. Mix in the whole eggs with a fork until smooth.
  5. Cut the flour in with a bench scraper in three installments until all the flour is worked in. Note that more or less flour may be necessary depending on the moisture content of the squash.
  6. Once the dough is together and not too sticky, roll it into long rolls (they should look like a snake) about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the gnocchi rolls into approximately 1/2 inch wide pieces.

For the pesto

  1. Place the toasted walnuts, cheese and garlic clove in a food processor and pulse until a loose paste is formed.
  2. Once you have the paste, add the sage and oil. Pulse slowly until the sage is incorporated. Transfer into a plastic container and refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve

  1. Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to a rolling boil, and carefully place the gnocchi into the pot. Cook the gnocchi just until they start to float. Then, drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, brown the butter slightly in a sauté pan until a nutty aroma is released, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the pesto to the butter and stir to incorporate all the flavors.
  4. Add the cooked gnocchi to the pan and sprinkle some cheese directly into the pan. Stir and serve immediately topped with more cheese.